Best Carrot Cake Recipe*
¾ cup ground walnuts, toasted**
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 ¼ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
zest of one orange (optional)
4 large eggs
3 cups shredded carrots
8 ounces crushed pineapple or applesauce***
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans as set aside.
Grind about 1 cup of toasted walnuts in a small food processor or spice/coffee grinder. Small chunks of walnut is okay, but be sure not to grind too far or it will start to become more of a paste. Measure out 3/4 cup and set aside.
Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together both sugars, eggs, and orange zest (if using). Stream in the oil and mix until combined. Working in two batches, gently stir in the dry ingredients. Stir in the ground walnuts.
Lastly, fold in the shredded carrots and pineapple until combined.
Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
* In my humble opinion =)
** The ground walnuts may be replaced with equal amounts almond flour or 1/3 cup all-purpose flour. A great tip for cleaning out your spice/coffee grinder in between uses it to grind up a small bit (like a tablespoon) of uncooked white rice (I read this is Luisa Weiss' Classic German Baking)
*** I have not tested this, but I bet you could replace the pineapple with a cup of mashed bananas as well (sort of like in this recipe)
Cream Cheese Frosting
12 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 to 5 cups confectioners sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
seeds from ½ vanilla bean or zest of one lemon (optional)
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. With the mixer on low, mix in the remaining ingredients until just combined. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer to medium-high and beat until fluffy. Adjust the sugar and milk until your desired consistency in achieved.
Once the cakes have cooled, gently cut them in half horizontally to create 4 even layers (this step is optional, but then you get to add more cream cheese filling – yummy!). Fill each layer with about 3/4 cup of the cream cheese frosting. Crumb coat the cake and chill for about 15 minutes. Frost with the remaining cream cheese frosting and decorate as desired.
For the buttercream flower crown, I used my favorite Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I tinted it with pastel yellow, peach, and a little fuchsia. I like the blend the different shades together as I go to create a color palette that really coordinates. I currently don't have a full tutorial of how to pipe each blossom (coming soon!), but you can find more info on the buttercream rose here and how to assemble here. For a video of me piping the rose, click here!! All of the flowers were piped using a petal tip, either 103 or 104. The English roses are similar to the rose from the video, but instead of a cone-shaped in the center, I piped two centric circles of ruffles before starting the outer petals. For the 5-petal blossoms, check out this video. Before the buttercream sets, add a few tiny white sprinkles.
One final tip for the flowers – I like to pipe them each on individual squares of parchment paper. I then pop them into the fridge so that the buttercream hardens. This way, you just peel off the parchment then arrange the flowers on the cake. They are much easier to arrange once chilled and are less subject to bumps and bruises.